How to Brief a Website Development Agency
Published on September 6, 2021
If you're in the market for a new website, then you must undertake significant planning and due diligence to ensure that what you want developed, translates into what you get as an end product.
So, based on what you already know about website development and design best practice and selecting the right website development agencies to invite to quote (read my other website strategy blog posts to learn more), I thought I'd share with you the key components that you MUST include in your website development brief, to enable you to successfully analyse quotes from website/marketing agencies you've invited to quote for your web project.
1. Business Background
In order to prepare a website brief, you will firstly need to share some details of you organisation. To do this, you should be as transparent as possible, and include information such as:
- A couple of paragraphs about your tourism business or organisation
- What tourism products you sell and how you distribute them
- Offer a snapshot of your Ideal Customer Personas and their online habits
2. Current Website Analysis
In order to meet your marketing goals (see point 3), Agencies need to know WHY you want to update your website. So, if you have an existing website, share your web address, and then offer answers to the following questions:
- In your opinion, what needs improving on your website and why?
- What platform is your website built on, and how long ago was it built?
- Share high level visitation stats from your Google Analytics Dashboard - including # Users, # Sessions, Average Session Duration, Bounce Rates, Smartphone visitation, Major Cities and finally your sales conversions - what ever data is relevant to give a good snapshot of its current performance objectives.
3. Outline your Website Marketing Goals + Objectives
To determine the best website development solution for your organisation, an Agency will need to know what a successful website means to you.
Are you wanting to increase sales, engagement with content, or both?
Identify your overall website marketing goals (high level, not measurable... eg. Increase Brand Awareness) and then offer some more tangible, SMART objectives (specific, measurable outcomes eg. Increase number of website users by 50% by end of June 2016).
4. Content Migration Requirements
Consider how you are going to populate the new website. It’s best not to copy and paste the current copy on your website, as chances are you will need to restructure your website navigation, edit out loads of irrelevant content and rewrite (and write) new content.
So before you write your brief, think about what content you want to be included from the get go on the website (pre-written articles / pages etc) as the Agency will no doubt charge a per page rate to insert and populate these pages.
Content can also be images, video and logos, so ensure that you can specify what content you need uploaded in the initial development of the new website, with the ability to add/change content in the future.
5. Functionality + Usability Requirements
Based on what you have researched about best practice website functionality & usability requirements (glean what you can from our other posts on website development to identify your specific needs), list out your exact requirements for your new website. Be as specific as possible with your detail, as this will be the base for your website build – very important to get it right.
6. Design Requirements
Your website ultimately offers an authentic brand experience - when visitors come to your website, they should instantaneously understand what your experience has to offer. So in addition to providing a list of the design requirements, supply your branding guidelines & a copy of a brochure.
In the briefing stage, it's not super critical that you talk about fonts, colour schemes etc, as the price of designing templates shouldn't alter based on these choices. It is however, important that you outline all of your particular functional specs (integrations etc), as these are the items that will influence your budget more heavily.
7. Technical Maintenance
The ongoing technical maintenance of a website is an often overlooked aspect of a website project. Maintenance may include keeping plugins and performance improvements up to date with content management systems, backups, and general health checkups.
Ask the agency to quote on a retainer website maintenance package to take the headache out of managing a secure, efficient site. You may also like to ask them for a quote to train you or someone in your organisation to do this inhouse if outsourcing it is cost prohibitive.
8. Agency Experience + Expectations
Although it is number 8. in this list, this section is VERY IMPORTANT! In your brief, you must communicate what the expectations are of the agency, as it relates to how they manage the project, communication methods and frequency, and also for them to showcase their portfolio and referees for you to cross-check their credibility.
There are two schools of thought for outlining a budget in your brief.
If you talk to an Agency, they would prefer to work toward a budget, as it indicates what you are prepared to spend, and some Agencies only work on big budget websites (from a cost vs benefit perspective) - which is totally fine.
If you want to really compare Agencies, then you are best to leave this section out, and ensure your brief is super detailed and self-explanatory. That way, you can really match apples with apples when comparing quotes from Agencies.
10. Quote Submission
In this final section, simply state key milestones for the project and expected timeframes for each milestone. This helps the agency understand your expectations, and they can address these expectations in their proposal if they are not suitable from their end.
Finish the brief with quote submission details including email & postal submission details, the application notification process & next steps. Also, include primary contact details if the Agency would like to contact the project manager to discuss the brief in further detail.